Try the Engineering Academic Challenge (Concordia Student Event)

The Engineering Academic Challenge asks students to figure out answers to a variety of interesting engineering questions by using databases with Engineering Village and Knovel. There will be an event at Concordia for engineering students to try the challenge (it includes food). Competing against universities from all over the world, you can also win some nice prizes.

On Monday, 23 October 2017 go to the Hall building, 7th floor student lounge area, between 11 and 1. Bring your laptop, use one of the computers there, or borrow one from the library.

Participating in the EAC is a great way to improve your ability to get effective search results out of Engineering Village, while also learning about interesting engineering problems.

Books to Help Engineers Communicate in a Business Context

If you’re a student beginning work within a professional environment you’ll find that there are expectations people have around communications, which are particular to the workplace. A lot of books for engineers cover how to communicate professionally within a business context. These books tend to be oriented toward helping the reader learn skills for improving the way they communicate their own specialized knowledge not just to their peers but perhaps more importantly, to people that do not have the same level of specialized engineering knowledge.

Depending on the position you take, you may need to present to clients or fellow employees. Likewise, different forms of communication (e-mail, live presentation, etc.) have their own characteristics, which you should use as relevant to the content you need to communicate (not to mention the people you’re communicating with).

Here is a list of several books that address communications topics and were written for engineers. These are all available from the Concordia Library so if you’re a student at Concordia they’ll be easy to find. I’m also providing links to find the books on the Worldcat site in case you happen to be interested in any of them and are not a Concordia student.

Access this list from Zotero or RefWorks or read on.

Oral communication excellence for engineers and scientists: based on executive input

By Judith Shaul Norback
Electronic resource (read it online) or find it with WorldCat

Description quoted from the book

“Engineering students and practicing engineers generally cannot give stellar presentations or communicate flawlessly by phone, in meetings, and in teams. They have little notion about which medium (in-person, voicemail, E-mail, IM, texting) is most effective in particular situations. And students and professionals are not aware of how to use oral communication to network on the job” This book aims at helping people solve these problems though practical advice, examples, and exercises.

Engineering your writing success: how engineers can master effective on-the-job communication skills

By James E. Vincler & Nancy Horlick Vincler
Print resource (pick it up at the library) or find it with WorldCat

Description quoted from the publisher

“You’ll never dread a writing project again when you learn to use the step-by-step approach given in Engineering Your Writing Success. This book shows you the nuts and bolts of starting and finishing all your writing projects–reports, proposals, memos, letters, data sheets, and procedures. Learn to design your message to reach your reader, choosing the right words every time. Don’t let poor writing skills hold back your career–this book can help!”

How to Communicate in Business

By David Silk
Electronic resource (read it online) or find it with WorldCat

Description quoted from the book

“This book aims to help engineers to communicate effectively with non-engineers, in the business context. It will also be useful to people from other technical or numerate backgrounds. It will help you to consider the various methods of communication used in business, and consciously develop your own skills. The approach is practical, although built upon some simple ideas of what we mean by communication, and its role in the business enterprise. Major chapters deal with spoken communication, written communication, business presentations and business meetings. They cover the main communication skills that an engineer is likely to need, both in a professional capacity and in a management or administrative capacity. Cross-cultural and international aspects are considered.”

What every engineer should know about business communication

By John X. Wang
Print resource (pick it up at the library) or find it with WorldCat


This is part of a collection of primers on topics that engineers should know for the practical workplace. This book addresses how to make presentations and reduce your fear of presenting. It also addresses how to improve writing skills, how to write for business impact, developing listening and interactive communication skills, preparing engineering reports, and more. Check out the other primers for related topics in this style.

Business communication essentials

By Courtland L. Bovée, John V. Thill, Jean A. Scribner
Print resource (pick it up at the library) or find it with WorldCat


This book covers topics such as understanding business communication in today’s workplace, mastering team skills and interpersonal communication, job interviews, career development guidance, and developing reports.

Power Through Presentations: Tips and Tricks to Build a Better Slide Deck

By Andy Balser
Print resource (pick it up at the library) or find it with WorldCat

Description quoted from the publisher

“Tackling a challenge faced by millions of business professionals every day, this handy guide shows how to create effective, visually appealing PowerPoint slides… It addresses common user concerns, such as turning facts and data into compelling visual images, generating concise project updates, creating presentation decks to be emailed or reviewed over the phone, and finding useful PowerPoint examples with minimal research.”


Access this list from Zotero or RefWorks

Document Your Search Strategy with this Template

While assisting students with their research, I often use a template I made to keep track of key concepts, synonyms, and to organize search strategies. Since it’s a good practice to record search strategies, I thought I’d make it easy for other people to get the template. It includes space to document the databases, journals, or other resources that you use as well as queries, dates, etc.

Download the spreadsheet template from the following links. Copy, modify, and re-use it as you need.

Open document format (.ods)
Search strategy template & simplified version

Microsoft Excel format (.xlsx)
Search strategy templatesimplified version Continue reading “Document Your Search Strategy with this Template”

Adapting Standards for Climate Change

Since I was just reading up on the new Canadian standard for zero carbon buildings, this other and related issue caught my eye. The European standards organizations have been working on adapting standards for the changes we’re experiencing and will be expected to experience with the climate.

They’re focusing on three sectors: transport infrastructure, energy infrastructure, and buildings and construction. Of course, obvious or not, climate change impacts all sorts of things, from temperatures that devices are designed to operate within, to electricity grid reliability, to withstanding extreme weather conditions, and much more.

To find out more about the CEN-CENELEC’s standards work, visit their climate change adaptation Web site. They have a number of free documents to download. Such guidance on adapting standards for climate change may prove worthwhile to have in mind while working with a range of other existing standards.

New, Canadian Zero Carbon Building Standard

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) recently released a new, Zero Carbon Building Standard. They explained that the standard aims “…to make carbon emissions the key indicator for building performance.” It applies to both new construction and existing buildings through certifications for design (new), performance (existing), or both. You can download the full document (PDF) free here.

The standard’s main components cover greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and associated strategies,  preparing for the future/renewable energy, and carbon from the lifecycle of the building materials.

This new standard contributes toward a goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from commercial, institutional, or multi-family buildings. The standard’s summary explains the CaGBC’s concern with current buildings’ performance because they expect a large percentage of these (over 80%) to continue being used in 2030. Additionally, the future lifespan of new buildings puts pressure to design for zero carbon emissions from the outset. This includes establishing techniques for offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions from the building’s energy consumption.

Much more information about the standard and the CaGBC’s Zero Building Program is available from the Zero Carbon Building Initiative web site.